Sport NZ has trialled 'blind CVs' among initiatives to improve gender balance within the sports funding agency.
The Government-funded sports funding body is on a mission to close both its own gender gap and also those within boards of sporting organisations that it funds.
Earlier this year chief executive Peter Miskimmin warned sporting bodies which received at least $50,000 in annual funding that not meeting an "incoming board gender diversity target" would see them compromise future payments.
And after concern was raised by a parliamentary select committee over its own gender pay parity performance, Sport NZ has revealed the steps it is taking to improve gender balance and parity; including bosses not knowing the gender of applicants during recruitment processes.
As well as omitting gender, blind CVs also do not feature the age or names of applicants.
Miskimmin told the Herald that improving gender equity "in all aspects of sport and recreation is a top priority" for Sport NZ.
That included both gender balance in terms of staffing and remuneration.
"In the past year we have updated our remuneration policy and at present are exploring a number of further initiatives," he said.
"These include blind CVs, unconscious bias training for all people managers and a review of the language and processes used in our recruitment."
Miskimmin would not elaborate further about the blind CV initiative.
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Over recent years they have become widely used by corporates in Britain and the United States. But the hiring tool has split opinion within local human resources experts.
Jo Copeland, Douglas Pharmaceuticals' group general manager people and culture, said she "didn't like" blind CVs and would never use them.
"There are so many markers on someone's CV that you can see, and if you go blind you are missing some of that good oil," she said.
Copeland said she believed more companies were using the blind CV in their recruitment processes, adding: "I think people think it is the answer to diversity and inclusion but I just don't."
She said if organisations such as Sport NZ had a "huge issue around not having women", then blind CVs weren't a magic answer, saying they needed to know the gender of job hopefuls to start with.
"I think you need to go the opposite way and further into conscious bias ... eliminating the identifiers and markers [may] mean that you may end up with a skewed result again," Copeland said.
"If what they are trying to achieve is to get more women in there, I think it is more powerful to look at what your advertising strategies are, the publications that you are looking within and actively working with groups to identify who are the best female talent."
Alan Pettersen, director and consultant of Auckland-based human resource consultants Positive People, which specialises in working with medium-sized businesses, said he hadn't seen many cases of blind CVs being used here.
But he said if used well, they could be a good tool.
"You are just having a look at the skills, competency and experience you are needing and go from there," he said.
He said workplaces accepted the need for diversity and that it enhanced "the value of organisations".
But he said in some cases, the use of blind CVs could see employers missing out on the "nuance" of specific job hopefuls.
Parliament's Social Services and Community Committee stated in its recently released annual review of Sport and Recreation New Zealand that it was "concerned" that the "proportion of women to men is very low in the highest pay brackets".
Just 33 women compared to 78 men earned over $100,000, the report revealed. An overall gender pay gap of 21.8 per cent further highlighted the "gender inequity".
The committee said Miskimmin had told them Sport NZ was "addressing this issue at a governance level".
The issue of pay parity for females in the elite sporting arena has been a hot talking point after members of the 2017 World Cup winning Black Ferns had to return to full-time work after their triumph.
In early 2018 they were rewarded with $10,000 bonuses by New Zealand Rugby.
Then there was outrage after the Silver Ferns weren't initially awarded a bonus after winning the recent Netball World Cup. Key sponsors Sky, ANZ, MYOB and Puma eventually contributed to a payment that will see the players receive a bonus of $25,000 each.
Improving gender equity was one of the key priorities in Sport NZ's 24 commitments it announced in October in response to the Government's Strategy for Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation.
There were three strategic priorities in the plan; participation, leadership and value and visibility.
Sport NZ – whose board includes former Black Ferns star Farah Palmer - has budgeted $10 million over three years to deliver on its commitments.
Miskimmin said Sport NZ was "extremely proud" to have gender balance at both board and senior leadership level, and was "close" to achieving it at "our management tier".
"As part of our commitment in this area we have a Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group and report monthly on gender equity [including salaries]."
Last year a survey conducted by AUT of New Zealand's top 100 companies revealed that females made up just 24 per cent of boards.
One of the Government's stated goals was that by 2021 women would make up 50 per cent of all state-sector boards and committees. At present that number is around 46 per cent.